What truly is a dominant buck and how does he fit into the general deer herd?
Male members of any deer herd can be divided into five types. They are: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omega.
The Alpha buck is dominant both psychologically and socially. He knows he is the biggest "bad ass" deer in the herd. He is confident and controls the other bucks through intimidation. Rarely does he engage in a physical fight with other members of the herd.
The Beta is psychologically dominant, but socially submissive. They are waiting for their chance to become the Alpha. They will shows signs of submissive mass towards the Alpha, but not to other bucks. Between 70% and 80% of the bucks in any herd will be Betas. When fights do occur between bucks they are both generally Betas.
The Gamma buck is also psychologically dominant, but socially he is reclusive. These are the loners. They avoid conflicts with other bucks except during in the rut. Gamma bucks, while only about 5% of the bucks in any herd, will make up better than 50% of the trophy bucks in heavily hunted areas. They are recluses. They stick to dense cover and are seldom seen during daylight hours. These are the survivors and because of that they tend to live longer, Gammas usually have better trophy qualities than either Alphas or Betas.
The Delta buck is submissive both socially and psychologically. Here’s the six or eight point buck who hangs around the doe group year-round. He is not only intimidated by other bucks, but by the does as well.
Lastly we have the Omega buck. He is psychologically submissive and socially a reject. He tries to seek acceptance anywhere he can. These are the bucks we see in videos walking into people’s kitchens and eating cookies from peoples hands. They will do anything to be accepted.
Both Delta and Omega bucks seldom live over two years in open range. They have the suicidal habit of standing in open fields during hunting season. Alpha bucks have a short life spans as well. Not only are they the targets of other bucks, but because of their high visibility they are also a prime target of hunters.
Most hunters automatically assume every oversized buck is a "Super Alpha", when in fact he is more than likely a Gamma buck.
(This is part two of a series of articles on Gamma bucks)
I feel very fortunate to have been raised in a rural community nestled in the rugged mountains of Idaho. In my youth, the locals paid little attention to game laws and seasons. Back then everyone hunted for meat. There was a certain amount of red meat that was needed be brought in to get everyone through the winter and we hunted until that supply was met. Hunting wasn’t for sport. It was for survival. We killed a lot deer. Those were the run, gun, and grin days of hunting here in Idaho. I loved every minute of it.
Times have changed. Those days are gone. But I would like to thank all the old-timers who so freely shared their hunting lore and secret spots with me. The lessons have not been forgotten. Thank you all.